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<title>How PostgreSQL Processes a Query</title>
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<h1>How PostgreSQL Processes a Query</h1>
<h2>by Bruce Momjian</h2>
<h3><i>Click on an item</i> to see more detail or look at the full
<a href="backend_dirs.html">index.</a></h3>
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<p>A query comes to the backend via data packets arriving through
TCP/IP or Unix Domain sockets. It is loaded into a string, and
passed to the <a href="../../backend/parser">parser,</a> where the
lexical scanner, <a href="../../backend/parser/scan.l">scan.l,</a>
breaks the query up into tokens(words). The parser uses <a
href="../../backend/parser/gram.y">gram.y</a> and the tokens to
identify the query type, and load the proper query-specific
structure, like <a
href="../../include/nodes/parsenodes.h">CreateStmt</a> or <a
<p>The statement is then identified as complex (<i>SELECT / INSERT /
UPDATE / DELETE</i>) or a simple, e.g <i> CREATE USER, ANALYZE, </i>,
etc. Simple utility commands are processed by statement-specific
functions in <a href="../../backend/commands">backend/commands.</a>
Complex statements require more handling.</p>
<p>The parser takes a complex query, and creates a <a
href="../../include/nodes/parsenodes.h">Query</a> structure that
contains all the elements used by complex queries. Query.qual holds
the <i>WHERE</i> clause qualification, which is filled in by <a
Each table referenced in the query is represented by a <a
href="../../include/nodes/parsenodes.h">RangeTableEntry,</a> and
they are linked together to form the <i>range table</i> of the
query, which is generated by <a
Query.rtable holds the query's range table.</p>
<p>Certain queries, like <i>SELECT,</i> return columns of data.
Other queries, like <i>INSERT</i> and <i>UPDATE,</i> specify the
columns modified by the query. These column references are
converted to <a
href="../../include/nodes/primnodes.h">TargetEntry</a> entries,
which are linked together to make up the <i>target list</i> of the
query. The target list is stored in Query.targetList, which is
generated by <a
<p>Other query elements, like aggregates(<i>SUM()</i>), <i>GROUP
BY,</i> and <i>ORDER BY</i> are also stored in their own Query
<p>The next step is for the Query to be modified by any
<i>VIEWS</i> or <i>RULES</i> that may apply to the query. This is
performed by the <a href="../../backend/rewrite">rewrite</a>
<p>The <a href="../../backend/optimizer">optimizer</a> takes the
Query structure and generates an optimal <a
href="../../include/nodes/plannodes.h">Plan,</a> which contains the
operations to be performed to execute the query. The <a
href="../../backend/optimizer/path">path</a> module determines the
best table join order and join type of each table in the
RangeTable, using Query.qual(<i>WHERE</i> clause) to consider
optimal index usage.</p>
<p>The Plan is then passed to the <a
href="../../backend/executor">executor</a> for execution, and the
result returned to the client. The Plan is actually as set of nodes,
arranged in a tree structure with a top-level node, and various
sub-nodes as children.</p>
<p>There are many other modules that support this basic
functionality. They can be accessed by clicking on the
<hr />
<p>Another area of interest is the shared memory area, which
contains data accessible to all backends. It has recently used
data/index blocks, locks, backend process information, and lookup
tables for these structures:</p>
<li>ShmemIndex - lookup shared memory addresses using structure
<li><a href="../../include/storage/buf_internals.h">Buffer
Descriptor</a> - control header for buffer cache block</li>
<li><a href="../../include/storage/buf_internals.h">Buffer
Block</a> - data/index buffer cache block</li>
<li>Shared Buffer Lookup Table - lookup of buffer cache block
addresses using table name and block number( <a
<li>Lock Manager Tables (lock hash) - the <a
href="../../include/storage/lock.h">LOCK</a> structure, looked up
using a <a href="../../include/storage/lock.h">LOCKTAG</a>.
A LOCK structure exists for each lockable object that is currently
locked by any backend. Also, there is a subsidiary <a
href="../../include/storage/lock.h">PROCLOCK</a> structure for each
backend currently interested in a given LOCK</li>
<li><a href="../../include/storage/proc.h">PGPROC Structures</a> -
information about each backend, including locks held/waiting</li>
<p>Each data structure is created by calling <a
href="../../backend/storage/ipc/shmem.c">ShmemInitStruct(),</a> and
the lookups are created by <a
<hr />
<small>Maintainer: Bruce Momjian (<a
href=""></a>)<br />
Last updated: Fri May 6 14:22:27 EDT 2005</small>
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